WHEN 14 years of civil war ended in 2003, Liberia was left with decrepit schools. Many children carried Kalashnikovs rather than textbooks. Since then Liberian governments have tried to start afresh. But, in part because of the outbreak of Ebola in 2014, efforts to improve education have made halting progress.
The consequences are grim. Less than 40% of school-age children attend primary school. By the time they are 18, girls are more likely to be married than literate. Just one woman in four who has finished primary school can read a sentence. According to a study published in 2014, more than 40% of girls have been asked for sex in return for better grades, money or school supplies.
One reason for optimism, however, is Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL), a pilot scheme run by the education ministry with help from Ark, a British education group. Drawing on American charter schools and English academies, last year…